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CPP hits comrade’s ‘cruel’ conviction

LUCENA CITY, Philippines—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has assailed the conviction of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Eduardo Sarmiento, calling his 40-year prison sentence “cruel.”

“The 40-year sentence imposed on Sarmiento constitutes cruel and unusual punishment on someone who was arrested and incarcerated for political reasons,” the CPP said in a statement Friday.

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The group said that Sarmiento, 62, was among the 400 political prisoners currently under detention, 150 of whom were arrested over the past three years in the Aquino administration.

The CPP has demanded the government rescind Sarmiento’s conviction as it maintained that his arrest on Feb. 24, 2009, was illegal.

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“Even under the GPH’s (Government of the Philippines) own laws, Sarmiento’s arrest and detention were illegal. He was taken into custody by the military without any warrant, in violation of his basic right against arbitrary arrest,” the CPP said in the statement.

It said the evidence against Sarmiento was planted by the military personnel who carried out his arrest.

The CPP—with its political arm, the NDFP, and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA)—has been waging an insurgency against the government for the past 44 years.

The peace negotiations with the government have been shelved on the issue, among others, of the arrest and detention of NDFP consultants, the communists have charged.

On Dec. 11, Judge Myra Bayot Quiambo of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 203 found Sarmiento guilty of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The CPP has insisted that Sarmiento, as an NDFP peace consultant, was covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), thus his arrest was a violation of the agreement with the government.

Under the Jasig, signed in 1995, NDFP members, consultants and staff who are part of the negotiating team are granted immunity from arrest, detention and have safety guarantees “to create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiation.”

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“This development makes the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GPH ever more difficult as it exemplifies the grave danger posed on the lives of NDFP consultants as a result of the GPH’s refusal to abide by outstanding agreements,” the CPP said.

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TAGS: Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Eduardo Sarmiento, Insurgency, prison sentence
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